Raising a child is hard. Caring for two is…harder? Sarah Bichan contemplates the pros and cons of having another child – with the assistance of Radiohead.
Ever since having our first child, I’ve wondered: do we really want a second? Anyone will tell you that it’s one of those questions that doesn’t really have a good answer. So I drew up a list of pros and cons to help me decide (adulting – ugh!) and combined it with Radiohead lyrics, because, well, why not?
Reasons not to have another child
Snot-nosed little punk
I have been splattered in sick, festooned with faeces and awash with wees. I’m a bit over it. We’re about to start potty training with our first child, so usually, the only thing that ends up on my clothes these days is lots and lots of snot. Do we really want more poosplosions and multiple night-time nappy changes? And don’t get me started on the food mess.
Go to sleep
If our toddler wakes earlier than usual a few days in a row, we feel sleep deprived. But I have to remind myself that it was waaaaaay worse when he was a newborn. Feeding was every two or three hours, pumping breastmilk was just as regular, we had to nap when baby did or we would never have made it through the day. I love my bed. I caught myself smiling longingly at it the other day. “Soon we will be reunited,” I whispered to it. I just have to do three more loads of washing, feed the baby, get him to nap, plan the week’s meals and do some freelancing work first. But, soon!
Now my energy you suck from me
Our darling 20 month old is extremely active and very talkative. He takes up a lot of our energy and time and it’s hard to fathom how we could possibly have enough stamina for him as well as another child. How did my holy-Mary-mother-of-four-(adorable)-children do it?!?! And let’s not even talk about my Nana caring for eight children. I would bow down in worship were she still with us. The energy suck is real. Will it be energy-suck-squared with two children? Will I ever feel enthused again?
Fitter, happier, more productive
You could argue that it’s harder for parents now, as they are both expected (and often need to) work a paid job as well as raising their children. There are a lot of demands and expectations placed on parents’ shoulders and often there isn’t enough support. I find it hard to work (multiple jobs), write, spend time with friends and family, be a good partner and a good parent to just one child. Add another into the mix and I start to feel a bit overwhelmed. I have great family support and an amazing partner-in-crime, but even so…
Jealous of youth
Will we be able to pay enough attention to our toddler with a newborn baby on the scene? Even now, I get the mum-guilts for putting our toddler in preschool for some of the week, but mama needs to earn some dough! And mama needs to talk to adults and have some space without being climbed on and snotted on. We have the luxury of being able to give quality time to our son at the moment, but this will inevitably change. Sharing our time equally could be a real challenge.
I want the toys of other boys
How will our wee one react to another child? Will he/she be the subject of sweet curiosity and boundless affection? Or will she/he be prodded, poked and smacked by a jealous and confused toddler? We’ll take the time, of course, to explain what is going on during the pregnancy and when the new arrival finally rocks up, but it could still be a difficult time to navigate. What if they won’t share? What if they HATE each other?
With number one, we didn’t go through colic or reflux, it was a relatively smooth pregnancy and labour, we have a pretty sweet tempered, happy-go-lucky little kid. Will child number two be the devil?!
For a minute there I lost myself
It’s very easy to lose yourself for a while; to become weighed down with the needs of your child and to forget your own. I feel like I’m out of the fog now, but I still struggle to make time to do the things I need to do, let alone want to do. This challenge will only be greater with another demanding little creature running around.
Reasons why we should have a second child
You’re just like an angel
The cute factor really does make up for a lot of shitty moments. The absolute best thing at the moment is hearing our wee one try to copy every word we say, with a pretty good level of accuracy. Lately he will look worriedly up at the sky and say “No moom” (no moon) and then says “moom” is “slip” (sleeping). There are so very many moments like this that make you want to laugh or sigh happily or squeeze his cute, pudgy little cheeks! Believe it or not, these moments make all the bodily fluid leakage worthwhile.
Kids are also great for comic relief. They pull the craziest faces, they laugh for no reason, they remind you to have fun and be silly. Children have a way of encouraging you to live in the moment and to cast your plans aside to do whatever it is they want to do. Your priorities definitely change when there’s a toddler pulling you along by the finger.
In a deep deep sleep/of the innocent
I do miss my bed. If nothing else, having another baby would mean taking daytime naps again to combat that constant energy suck. You do get used to living off less sleep. I keep telling myself that it’s only temporary. And it is. Our first born sleeps pretty well most of the time now and it will be the same (eventually) for the next one. There’s something quite magical about tiptoeing into his room and hearing an intake of breath followed by a peaceful little sleep-sigh. I still sometimes reach down and gently touch his back to make sure he’s breathing. The sleep gets better but the worry never really goes away.
It’s actually quite lovely having this little being to care for and worry about. It’s not the same as what you feel for your partner, who’s big enough and ugly (sorry dear, I mean devilishly handsome) enough to look after him or herself. It’s almost nice to worry about this little darling-devil who you’ve come to love more than you ever thought possible. Children inject more meaning into your life, more energy, more general enjoyment. You can’t help but be enthusiastic around children, in my experience. And, with time, you can have some fun without them (it’s called babysitting).
If I could be who you wanted/All the time
I had some very unrealistic expectations of myself when we had our first child. My husband would say that I still do. I say I’m improving. I know now that I don’t have to do everything, to be everything to everyone. I like to think that I wouldn’t be as hard on myself or spend as much time feeling guilty about things beyond my control. But there’s only one way to find out…
Follow me around
With two kids, yes, there will be fighting and crying, but there will also be moments of genuine tenderness and love, if my childhood is anything to go by. Our first born might even find he has his own personal fan group of one. Maybe he’ll love being a big brother. I’m also looking forward to the time when they can entertain each other for a while, while Mum and Dad do .. . well, whatever the hell we want!
I have to remember that it wasn’t all smooth sailing with our first born. He was in hospital for a week after his birth on antibiotics, he wouldn’t latch, since starting daycare he’s been constantly sick. It’s not all sweetness and light. So, if karma is going to get me, maybe it will reward me with fewer health issues with the next child. Or maybe we’ll just experience different issues.
Learning to love losing yourself
This is probably naive, but I feel like I’ll do it better the second time around. It’s not that I did everything wrong with number one, but it was a massive learning curve and there are things I might do differently next time. Our first child was, like my husband and myself, the experimental child. With a second, we can perfect our craft… Or balls it up in a completely different way.
And yes, little pieces of us may get lost along the way, but what we find in return is so much greater. You don’t have to sacrifice having a life outside of your children, but I think you adjust to having a different kind of self, a different kind of life. Your new self takes on board all of your children’s worries and tears and laughter and love and this is what fills up the gaps that the initial upheaval created.
Kill me again with love
Will we have enough energy and stamina and love for another child? Of course we will. Heaven help us…
Sarah Bichan is a blogger, a linguist, a foodie and a mother of one delicious little boy.
This content is entirely funded by Flick, New Zealand’s fairest power deal. In the past year, their customers saved $320 on average, which pays for a cheeky bottle of wine in the trolley almost every shop. Please support us by switching to them right now!
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed, free daily curated digest of all the most important stories from around New Zealand delivered directly to your inbox each morning.